Riley Pearce is a young and down to earth singer songwriter and he is about to kick off a tour to launch his EP. Having played with the likes of Josh Pyke and Kim Churchill, he is ready to take centre stage. I spoke to him about his songwriting, touring and the influence other musicians have had on him.
Your music is beautifully haunting but has an obvious confidence to it. Can you tell me about your writing process and why you decided to work with the layered, complex sounds you’ve gone with?
Don’t know about confidence haha, just bluffing my way through it nicely. During the writing process, I often find myself starting to think about how the end product will sound and what parts could go where, then when it comes time to record we flesh out different ideas, listen to sounds we like in other songs and pair things up as we see fit.
Do you find it easy to write both music and lyrics?
Sometimes things just seem to work, and all the ideas feel right but other times you just hit wall after wall and need to put in some serious time to get things out of my head and onto the page.
Have you found a correlation between traveling between places as a child and your recent trip to Montana in the theses and structure in the Outside the Lines EP?
Hmmmmm, I’ve never really thought of it like that. I suppose when you’re a child everything feels new, so it’s all exciting anyway. Maybe subconsciously that travel has made me love travel later in life and loved creating memories in all these different places.
There are always themes that run through a grouping of songs, what are you trying to say with this EP?
There isn’t so much of a theme that groups the songs rather that all the songs were written as the result of a creative trip I took to Montana. They’re all inspired my time there and that particular stage in my life. There are quite varied themes throughout the songs, but it’s always going to remind me of what I was going through at the time and how amazing that trip was.
“We Are Fools” and “Brave” are very different songs, what influenced two such different sounds?
Besides the 3-year gap between the two songs, I think the main difference is the transition in my listening preferences and the closer attention to the production side of things. I learnt so much from We Are Fools, which was really my first leap into the world of recording. I wanted the new sounds to be so much bigger and crafted than that of the first EP.
There is some public industry backing, from Dom Alessio at Triple J, to Kim Churchill and Josh Pyke. What effect has that had on your as a performer?
It definitely helps you realize you’re heading in a good direction – Like a nod from your Dad from the side of the footy oval after you lay a bump. It’s nice to get some acknowledgement from people who’ve been in the industry for ages and who I really respect, and it definitely makes you work harder to and inspires you to go on to the next step.
You’ve been able to tour with some successful and talented artists recently. What’s this experience been like for you?
For the most part UNREAL!! It’s great to see how other artist’s do things, there are lots to learn. Sometimes things aren’t always as smooth running as you hope…. The first song of a 3-show tour I did with Kim, I broke a string and had only brought one guitar with me. Kim was nice enough to lend me his while he’d changed the strings on the guitar of the idiot muso he’d just met. (WHAT A LEGEND!!) That taught me a lot about staying humble and always offering to help out other musicians where you can.
What kind of influence has it had on your writing and your performance style?
I’ve definitely learnt a lot about the performance side of things, from crowd interaction to structuring my setlist and adding different elements to songs to make sure they’re not just the same as the recording. In terms of the songwriting, I mostly just sit there in awe of them and a jealousy for what they can do and the lyrical masterpieces that a lot of those singer/songwriters produce.
Your headline tour is about to kick off, what are you looking forward to most?
Down south is always so much fun at this time of year, people are just chilled out from Summer and so friendly. I’m also looking forward to heading over east and playing to some new crowds. Get to play my first show in Sydney too which I’m very excited for.
How did you choose your support for this tour?
That’s actually one of the best parts of heading over east. There’s so many artist’s whose tunes I’ve been listening to for so long and now I get to play shows with a lot of them. For all the WA shows I’ve got good friends Wanderlust joining the SW shows and then a whole bunch of mates and amazing muso’s for the Perth EP launch. WA is definitely not short of talented artists.
What can we expect from each of your shows?
I’ll be playing all the tracks from the new EP, some from the old stuff, some whacky covers and will be in full full band mode (some brass additions) for some of the WA shows
After this tour, what’s up next? More writing? More touring?
I’m hoping to do a bit more touring during the year, heading to more regional towns and back over east, whilst focusing largely on writing new material. I’ve got a serious backlog of ideas that I need to get out.